Travel Sri Lanka
THE ‘PEARL OF THE INDIAN OCEAN’ – LUSH BIODIVERSE ENVIRONMENTS, BEAUTIFUL BEACHES AND WELCOMING LOCALS
Adventure Tour of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka is an exotic island nation rich in biodiversity and home to incredibly resilient & beautiful people, diverse cultures and ethnicities, and immensely interesting villages and locals
Tea plantations and forests of cinnamon, elephants sanctuaries and animal parks, historic temples and bustling villages, this handcrafted backpacking adventure tour discovers the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean from its extraordinary lush landscapes and beaches to its exotic wildlife and diverse cuisine
JaffnaThe city of Jaffna has a sad history or war from the colonisation days where the Portuguese, then Dutch, the British all took possession of the port. Prior to the Sri Lankan civil war Jaffna was the second most populated city in the country. In the past decade it has begun to be repopulated with people of mostly Tamil and Christen religions. Visit Kandarodai a traditional market area on the peninsula and Nallur Kandaswamy temple which is the most significant for the Sir Lankan Hindis.
TrincomaleeExperience the city of Trincomalee, that offers exciting cultural experiences, with a fantastic temple, which is the Hindu temple Koneswaram, it is a magnificent temple located by the water, build around 200-400 years B.C. However, parts of the temple have been destroyed over time, but it still stands beautifully. In addition, you can also watch whales and snorkel and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Sigiriya Rock Fortress, MataleThe surrounding area of Sigiriya has been inhabited since pre-historic times with evidence of life as far back as 5000 years. Dominating the area is the ancient Lion Rock fortress. King Kashyapa built a palace on top of the huge rock column around 477 AD along with a sentinel gate in the shape of a lion - hence the name. The stories around Kashyapa and the lavish palace are endless from him murdering his father to the palace being a party-house for his playboy lifestyle. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and studied for its early historical evidence of urban planning.
KalpitiyaFrom its early days as a smuggling port and then military port under the Dutch colonisation of Sri Lanka, Kalpitiya has developed in to a thriving tourism destination. 14 islands make up the archipelago on the peninsula and the area is popular for kite-surfing, wind-surfing and diving, and snorkelling in the marine reserve. The beaches feel isolated and can have wonderful sunsets.
DambullaDambulla is an archeologists dream come true. Firstly the Ibbankatuwa Prehistoric burial site contains human skeletons nearly 3000 years old. Second is the incredible caves containing paintings and statues back to the 1st century. The magnificent Cave Temple that you see today was built by King Valagamba after he spent 14-years hiding under the protection of the Buddhist monks meditating in the cave during the sacking of the Anuradhapura kingdom. When the king returned to the throne at Anuradapura he had the rock temple built in gratitude to the monks of Dambulla.
PasikudahA popular tourist destination, Pasikudah is an incredibly beautiful village in the Eastern Province. It used to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, however suffered huge devastation following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the Sri Lankan Civil War. As a historically Tamil Village it attracted a large amount of conflict during the civil war as the Tamil separatists looked to drive the Hindi away. Reconstruction works and foreign investment in hotels, guesthouses and beachside restaurants have allowed visitors to once again visit this wonderful area of Sri Lankan heritage. Go and see what remains of Pasikudah Marimman Temple - one of the more impressive features of the area. Pasikudah is one of the world’s longest stretches of shallow reef coastline and you can walk for kilometres into the sea because the water is only a few inches deep with a relatively weak current compared to the rest of Sri Lanka’s coast.
NegomboAlthough a major industrial port Negombo is a fantastic place. Surrounded by tropical rainforest the white sand beaches and shallow lagoon are perfect for water sports. The port established itself as a major trading destination over the last two millenia and has been a centre for the fishing industry right back to ancient time. The fisherman who today continue the history using traditional boats and methods live in small thatched huts along the beach front around the lagoon. Global warming poses a serious risk as Negombo sits on 2 metres above sea level.
KandyUnlike Sri Lanka's other big city, Colombo, Kandy is sizeably smaller and compact with a much nicer feel. Sitting on a plateau in the mountainous central area of the island the temperature is considerably cooler. Kandy is surrounded by tropical rainforest hills and tea plantations. It is really common to see wild monkeys coming all the way in to town. Make sure you visit the hugely significant Temple of the Tooth in the former grounds of the residence of the Kingdom. This temple supposedly holds a tooth of Buddha where it is believes that whoever holds the tooth holds the governing power of the city.
EllaElla is a pretty mountain town surrounded by cloud forests and tea plantations. There is a lovely achievable hike up the pyramid shaped Little Adams Peak to the south of the town. however, most visitors come to Ella as the starting point of the Ella to Nuwara Eliya train ride. Regarded by many as the most beautiful train journey in the world.
Adams PeakThe distinctive pyramid of Adam's Peak can be seen from all around the region of Ceylon. Although not the tallest in Sri Lanka it is by far the most sacred. Adam's Peak comes with many names to reflect its importance to all cultures and races in the country. In the rock at the summit a hollow formation is said to be the foot print of Shiva by the Brahmans, the footsteps of Buddha by the Buddhists of Buddha, made by Adam according to the Mahommedans and to the Christians it is either St Thomas or the eunuch of Candace. Regardless of the name or your beliefs there is no doubt of the spiritual feeling you do get climbing the mountain via one of the many trails. The region below the mountain is a national park and contains wild tigers and elephants.
PettahOriginally just outside the main fort of Colombo, the open air and floating markets of Pettah are a sensory overload. Built in the formation of a huge crossword prepare for your sensors to be battered (in a joyous way) from noise of the hustle and bustle of the busy markets, the smells of the spices and street food and wondrous tastes. It is almost impossible to walk through the whole markets in a day.
ColomboMost visitors arrive in to the big busy dirty city of Colombo - Sri Lanka's capital and largest city. The near tropical heat makes the city feel very sticky and close which compounds with the traffic and noise - it is all very fun. Head to the harbour area for some welcoming sea breeze. Stop and taking in the awesome street food a your first experience of the amazing Sri Lanka cuisine. Head to the Pettah market suburb for a sensory overload.
DikwellaDikwella is a small coastal town a long beautiful golden sandy beach called Kudawella. The shoreline is well protected by offshore reefs and sandbars and a wrapping headland making a really lovely place to swim and sun-bake. Nearby Kudawella beach is the Hummanaya blowhole and the secluded Hummanaya Bay - also great for a day relaxing and swimming. In the town itself visit Sri Lanka's largest seated Buddha at 50 metres high and check out all the cool pictures depicting the life of Buddha in the temple behind.
WeligamaPerhaps the most recognised images from the beach resort of Weligama are the stilt-fisherman who use bamboo rods to catch small fish from their single stilt poles just beyond the surf line. The beach itself is beautiful, plus there is an inland inlet for calm water swimming and Weligama is a great place to learn to surf. Check out the carved Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara in the rock on the main beach. The story goes that an ancient king with leprosy received a vision to live on coconut pulp and water for 3 months. Upon his miraculous cure he carved out this 3 metre sculpture now known as Kusta Raja Gala or Rock of the Leper King to celebrate.
MirissaMirissa is the largest fishing port on the south coast of Sri Lanka. It is really worth a visit early morning to see the fisherman bringing in their catches of tuna, snapper and butterfish. Unlike some of its more sleepy neighbours it is here you will find some more boisterous nightlife during tourist season and activities such as dolphin and whale watching. Alternatively you can just snooze the day away on the golden sand beach.
TalallaTalalla is that place where time holds its breath. Where troubles just melt into the pristine golden sandy beach to be washed away from the rolling surf. Lined with coconut palms and huge banyan trees the water is a clear turquoise colour and during migration it is not unusual to see whales passing. Get up super early to catch the traditional fisherman deliver their catches in their colourful outrigger canoes, before a sunrise yoga class followed by a surf lesson.
Udawalawe National ParkThe Udawalawe National Park, developed around the Udawalawe Reservoir, is a really important wildlife park for its biodiversity. In particular, at least 250 Sri Lankan elephants are permanently in the park which also houses a successful elephant orphanage. Some of the other rare animals that you maybe lucky enough to see include the rusty-spotted cat, fishing cat, Sri Lankan leopard, the very rare Sri Lankan sloth bear, and any number of different types of deer, jackals, wild boar, water buffalo and bird species.
Yala National ParkYala National Park is Sri Lanka's most popular park and a huge wildlife sanctuary. It is here that tigers, leopards and elephants roam in nearly 1,000 square kilometres of wilderness. Unfortunately it is not all cameras and wildlife as the National Park is under continual threat from poaching, gem-miners, agriculture, and unfortunately terrorism.
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